Part three: The build begins.
Concrete takes several weeks to dry fully but, for the purposes of constructing a garage, a week is usually sufficient before attempting to build on a new base.
On October 19, 2017, a large flatbed truck arrived that was laden with concrete panels, lots of corrugated roofing sheets and a couple of doors. A 7ft up-and-over door was laid out on the front lawn, but after a scrap metal merchant politely enquired as to whether he could take it away, it was moved elsewhere.
A concrete plinth marked the perimeter of the garage walls and helped to show why the garage manufacturer had stipulated the concrete base needed to have an excess of six inches all round. With this plinth in position, it was clear the inspection pit was slightly offset, but this is an advantage for photography. It meant that, if a vehicle was reversed in and positioned over the pit, there would be a little more space on the nearside when working on the brakes, for example. This would also make it easier to manoeuvre a camera and tripod between the vehicle and the wall of the garage.
The 2ft-wide concrete panels that form the walls of the garage are quite heavy at around 50 kilos each. They’re straightforward to transport using a sack trolley, but can be awkward to manoeuvre. The three men that were building the garage made short work of moving them into position and attaching them. Over half the panels were in position a mere 45 minutes after the first two corner panels were bolted together.
A corrugated pent roof had been ordered, which enabled the overall height of the garage to remain within the 2.5-metre limit, especially with the extra-tall up-and-over door. The roof is a little lower at the back of the garage, allowing rainwater to drain off into guttering and a water butt. All of the roof panels are supported on a steel framework that’s secured to the tops of the concrete walls. Raising the roof at the front of the garage requires a wood framework to be constructed and fitted, which needs to be angled to achieve the correct height at the front. The wood framework was covered and protected with plastic fascia boards, which were trimmed using an angle grinder after they had been fitted.
The construction of the garage was completed in less than four hours, not helped by the near-constant rain.
The white stuff
After a thorough sweep-out of the garage, it was time to start painting inside. Adopting a top-down approach, the walls were first on the list. A 10-litre tub of bright white masonry paint was bought for £38, along with a new paint roller. Pretty soon, I was peppered in white from head to toe. The first coat was quickly soaked up and looked patchy. The second coat made a difference and allowed whatever natural light that entered through the four clear roof panels to bounce around inside. The garage was already looking much brighter, even before the electrics and LED lighting were fitted.
While painting the walls, the builder who had constructed the base and inspection pit visited and brought along several pre-cut lengths of wood. He secured wooden feet to each length to help raise them up, then laid them down over the inspection pit. His calculations were accurate and there were enough boards sitting at the correct height to be flush with the surrounding floor.
Into the grey
With the new floorboards installed over the inspection pit, it was now much easier to paint the floor. The builder had kindly donated a tin of grey floor paint that had hardly been used. The first coat was thinned out a little with white spirit. Starting at the very back of the garage, the paint was rollered on and I painted myself out. Allowing sufficient time for the first coat to almost dry, a second coat without any white spirit was applied and seemed to look better. The garage door was then closed and locked, with strict instructions to keep off the floor for a week, although I managed to jump across it and into the inspection pit so I could paint the walls and floor.
Unfortunately, the painted floor wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped it would be. Maybe the paint had gone off or got some moisture in it, but it has not been as hard-wearing as I’d expected. I’ll wait for the weather to improve before attempting another coat or two.